Old space dog

Ridley Scott on The Martian and man's best friend.

by Anne-Katrin Titze

The Martian director Ridley Scott:
The Martian director Ridley Scott: "I'm a dog man!" Photo: Anne-Katrin Titze

Ridley Scott's multiple Oscar nominated film The Martian, screenplay by Drew Goddard, stars Matt Damon as astronaut Mark Watney with Jessica Chastain as Commander Melissa Lewis in charge of NASA's mission to Mars. Dariusz Wolski's cinematography, Arthur Max's production design, Harry Gregson-Williams' score, mixed with The O'Jays, Gloria Gaynor, Thelma Houston, Donna Summer, Vicky Sue Robinson, ABBA and David Bowie's Starman add to the journey. The director of Alien starring Sigourney Weaver, Blade Runner with Harrison Ford, Rutger Hauer and Sean Young, and Prometheus with Michael Fassbender, Noomi Rapace, Guy Pearce and Charlize Theron, is also a dog man.

The Martian:
The Martian: "You'd be amazed what the equipment's like … "

The seven Oscar nominations announced for The Martian are Best Picture (Simon Kinberg, Ridley Scott, Michael Schaefer and Mark Huffam), Best Adapted Screenplay for Drew Goddard's adaptation of Andy Weir's book, Best Actor for Matt Damon, Achievements in Production Design (Arthur Max), Visual Effects, Sound Editing and Sound Mixing.

Anne-Katrin Titze: I love how you mix the ordinary with the 'alien'. The stapler used to staple the stomach. The alarm clock sound that wakes up Watney [Matt Damon].

Ridley Scott: Aah! You know, I hadn't thought about that. Very observant! I mean his damaged stomach and Alien - I hadn't thought about that. Good idea. I never thought about that.

AKT: The thing that hits him looks like the top of a garbage can.

Joe Pantoliano with Ridley Scott and Matt Damon at the Twentieth Century Fox 21 Club Martian tea
Joe Pantoliano with Ridley Scott and Matt Damon at the Twentieth Century Fox 21 Club Martian tea Photo: Anne-Katrin Titze

RS: Yeah. Well, it's a satellite. It's a dish.

AKT: These ordinary objects make for a wild future. Similarly to Blade Runner, [the future in The Martian] isn't sleek and aseptic.

RS: Yes. You'd be amazed what the equipment's like when you see it lying in a garage. Things that hadn't been used for ten years. That's equipment they made. I went around JPL [Jet Propulsion Laboratory] and fundamentally looked at their site. It's like a car lot of gear that they'd discarded that is no longer in use.

It's surprisingly and in a rather nice way, what I'd call Heath Robinson [the English cartoonist famous for drawing complicated machines fulfilling simple tasks]. Wires and rods and things. There is nothing streamlined about it.

AKT: I noticed that Watney has lots of pictures of dogs with him on the mission to Mars. It looks like one and the same dog on the wall.

On Mark Watney's (Matt Damon) wall:
On Mark Watney's (Matt Damon) wall: "I just stick them in because I love dogs."

RS: On the wall!

AKT: It is never brought up. You never go back to that?

RS [smiles a mysterious smile]: I'm a dog man!

AKT: You're a dog man?

RS: I just stick them in because I love dogs.

Coming up - Loving Jeff Daniels, NASA vetting, what science fiction means to Ridley Scott and Drew Goddard's favorite planet.

Read Matt Damon on playing the greatest botanist on the planet, Jessica Chastain on outfitting an astronaut, spacesuit versus sweatpants and loving the soundtrack in The Martian and screenwriter Drew Goddard on adapting Andy Weir's book.

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